Albert Einstein: The Timeless Relevance of Pisces
When one thinks of Albert Einstein often the first thing that comes to mind is either his scientific brilliance, or the crazy hairstyle that has made his image so recognizable. However, consistent with his Pisces Sun, there was a lot more to this extraordinary individual than one might guess. Just below the surface of his seemingly eccentric exterior was a compassionate humanitarian and civil rights activist.
Born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany, Einstein was arguably the most influential physicist of the 20th century. Famous for his “theory of relativity”, he won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. His lifetime contributions to science particularly, and humanity in general, far exceed a single theory.
The Way of Peace
Einstein was a lifelong pacifist. Despite Germany’s declaration of war in 1914, it is important to note that he was one of a group of intellectuals who signed a manifesto which opposed his country’s entry into war. A professor at the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin, he continued his work during the years of WW1 and completed his general relativity theory in 1916. Following the end of the war Einstein traveled all over the world and lectured at the University of Zurich. Beginning in 1930 he spent part of the year in Princeton, and worked at the Academy in Berlin during the summer months. However, in 1933, once the National Socialists seized control in Germany, he did not return to his homeland and instead took up permanent residency in the United States.
Widely recognized for his political, humanitarian and academic projects, Einstein was an outspoken advocate for many worthwhile endeavors. Without doubt, the man’s philosophies and values were continually influenced and shaped by the general state of the world around him. He recognized both a need and an opportunity to make a difference.
Education and Compassion
A strong proponent of education, at one point he stated “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”. This view was characterized through Einstein’s involvement in helping to establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. On the occasion of its founding he said: “A university is a place where the universality of the human spirit manifests itself”. Opening its doors in 1925, the university is a global leader in science, medicine, agriculture and the humanities. The work of its scientists and scholars continues his legacy of humanitarian contribution.
There is varied and significant evidence of Einstein’s compassionate nature. He often commented that he viewed it to be the responsibility of scientists and those who create policy to maximize the benefit of new discoveries and endeavors for the interests of peace and human well-being. His attitude, he said, was “not derived from any intellectual theory but is based on my deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred”. This view was further illustrated by the fact that he campaigned for the civil rights of African Americans.
Taking a Stand Against Racism
A passionate and committed anti-racist, Einstein joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Princeton. He described racism as America’s “worst disease” and felt it had been “handed down from one generation to the next”. Perhaps he was more sensitized to the issues of racism as a result of his heritage. As a Jew, his personal experience with discrimination and persecution during the part of his life spent in Germany, no doubt played a role. In 1946 he was awarded an honorary degree at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. This university was the first in the United States to grant college degrees to African Americans. In the speech he gave there, he shared his views on racism in America and declared that he did not “intend to be quiet about it”.
The early studies of Sylvester James Gates, Jr., an accomplished African-American physicist, were influenced by Einstein and his theory of relativity long before he had even become aware of the scientists views on civil rights. During an interview with NOVA in 2003, Gates explained Einstein’s “approach to problems in physics was to start by asking very simple questions, such as, ‘What would the world look like if I could drive along a beam of light?’” Extrapolating this concept, Gates said: “He must have developed his ideas about race through a similar process. He was capable of asking the question ‘What would my life be like if I were black?’”
Einstein continued to be concerned with humanitarian issues throughout his life. Passionately opposed to racial segregation and ethnic discrimination, he supported human rights around the world. His efforts, in varying degrees of success, were dedicated towards achieving peace, world order, and international cooperation. During the last ten years of his life, he fought for the peaceful use of atomic energy. He had great remorse about the contribution of physics which led to the atomic bomb. In fact, his final signature was given to a non-scientific statement, along with nine other prominent scientists, which became known as the “Russell-Einstein Manifesto”, a call to all nations for the renouncement of nuclear weapons.
Manifesting Imagination, Compassion, and Service
Reading through the stories of Einstein’s life the manner and expression of his Pisces Sun becomes obvious. Clearly he was a man with imagination, compassion, and an attitude of service to mankind. Perhaps idealistic at times, he readily spoke out about difficult but important issues that required his voice and obvious support. Although he died in 1955 his legacies in science, human rights, social responsibility, and collective cooperation and consideration live on.
Words to Live By
There was so much more to Albert Einstein’s life than what is shared here. A great many quotes are attributed to him and, if one is so inclined, a good deal of inspiration can be found in them. In the spirit of the man and in consideration of the current world climate, this final statement comprised solely of Einstein quotes seems incredibly appropriate. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” “A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.” “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” With this in mind, I encourage you to find the genius within and become the Einstein of your world.